Not to be confused with the name of lots of musical performing groups over the years, the blue notes are the essential pitches of color within the blues scale that enjoy the widest range of different intonations or variations of pitch and tuning within the music. Compare the following groups of pitches based on the root pitch C. Example 1.
|scale degree||root||minor 3rd||4th||#4th||5th||minor 7th|
Here is the sound of the pitches above over a minor tonic chord. Example 1a.
|root min 3rd||# 4th min 7th||blues scale|
Sound familiar? Cool. We begin our examination here of the blue notes by relating them to a common root, tonic or fundamental pitch, which in the example from above is C. From this pitch we theoretically measure upward to the intervals of the blue notes. Measuring the intervals between the pitches allows us to label a pitch theoretically, to put a handle on it. In chart form, example 1b.
|C up to Eb||minor third|
|C up to F#||augmented 4th|
|C up to Bb||minor 7th|
All we are really doing in the following links is to examine the color pitches of the blues scale individually and create melodies or blues licks for each of the scale degrees. Simply click on a possible choice and off ya go exploring each of the tones.
|blue third||blue fourth||blue seventh|
What about the rest of the pitches in the blues scale? The tonic, fourth and fifth degrees? Why aren't they called blue notes? Well, its all my doing. The tonic ( one ), the fourth and fifth scale degree are essential pitches in the blues color. I don't think of them as blue notes per se due to their usually stable intonation, but they are totally important components within the structure of the blues, as they are the pitches upon which the principle chords of the 12 bar blues form are created. Whether labeled blue notes or not, these pitches are integral components of the blues scale, for without them we would be a bit adrift in the sea of tonal gravity.
The tonic is the center of this gravity, the fourth and fifth are the two essential stopping points along the way in our 12 bar 1, 4, 5 blues form. The following discussions review various aspects of each of these three scale degrees while providing basic musical ideas to illuminate important melodic aspects. To explore the harmony, click on blues chords. These three pitches, the One, Four and Five, are also integral components of the European equal temperament system and as such, oftentimes do not so obviously convey the blues color. So, the distinction and breakdown of the resources is how I view the resources. Just makes it easier to talk about the resources, the theory that glues them all together and recreate the music from those elements. So, simply make a selection and off ya go.
"Knowledge speaks ... wisdom listens ..." Jimi Hendrix